Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo

By Jane C. Schneider; Peter T. Schneider | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Recuperating the
Built Environment

Nothing better illustrates the hopes of the antimafia movement than its commitment to the recuperation of Palermo city, undoing the “savage” expansion of the periphery and shameful neglect of the historic core. From the first burst of activism in the early 1980s, the city's renewal has been a movement priority, both an emblem of the desired cultural changes and a test of the extent to which they are progressing. The recuperation of historical architecture in the old city center and the development of a wider urban plan anchor the rhetoric of “reversible destiny, ” pointing at once to physical and symbolic transformation.

Between the two world wars, modern architecture and urban planning were professionalized in Italy as the fascist regime, deeply engaged in social engineering, patronized architects and planners, harnessing them to the task of remaking, managing, and “civilizing” society. Bold strategies of expropriation, zoning regulation, confiscation, and the redefinition of eminent domain went forward; private as well as public investors in large and ambitious projects worried little about the rights of anyone in the way (Booth 1997: 152–74; von Henneberg 1996). Although today's antimafia professionals work under the very different conditions of a parliamentary democracy, some of the dynamics affecting their vision and its implementation are similar to the dynamics of ordering the urban environment in those long ago days. In particular, today's planners continue to view architecture and planning as instruments to reshape society, “a pedagogical project” (von Henneberg 1996: 98).

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Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Palermo Crucible 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Genesis of the Mafia 22
  • Chapter 3 - The Mafia and the Cold War 49
  • Chapter 4 - The Cultural Production of Violence 81
  • Chapter 5 - Seeking Causes, Casting Blame 103
  • Chapter 6 - Mysteries and Poisons 127
  • Chapter 7 - The Antimafia Movement 160
  • Chapter 8 - Backlash and Renewal 193
  • Chapter 9 - Civil Society Groundwork 216
  • Chapter 10 - Recuperating the Built Environment 235
  • Chapter 11 - Cultural Re-Education 260
  • Chapter 12 - Reversible Destiny 290
  • Notes 305
  • References 317
  • Index 331
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